Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Isnt that sweet!
That phrase can be sincere, or it can drip with sarcasm. But if you listen carefully to Pauls directive in Colossians 3:13-14, you have to say it sincerely: Isnt that sweet!
Paul is demanding in Christians a durable tenderness that leads us to treat each other as we have been treated by God, not as we deserve. In fact, thats his centerpiece in the passage: Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Jesus taught this tough and holy tenderness in Matthew 18. How often do I have to forgive? Peter asked. Jesus answer: How could you ever think of not being forgiving to others when you realize how much God has forgiven you? Jesus told this story.
There was a King, owed an enormous debt by one of his servants. The debt is so large the servant could never repay the debt. Not in a hundred lifetimes. But the King showed mercy. He forgave his servant this incredible debt.
That forgiven servant then goes out and finds someone who owes him. Now here is where we blow it. We talk about how small and insignificant the debt is. It was only two hundred denarii. we say. Major problem though, its not quite accurate.
A Roman soldier, someone who made an upper middle class income, earned 300 denarii a year. I dont know about you, but I don't know many people who would consider 2/3 of a years salary to be an insignificant debt. To be cheated out of that would be catastrophic!
Our forgiveness is undeserved.
That is Jesus point. We are not to forgive because the debt others owe us, the wrong they have done against us, is insignificant. No, we are to forgive SIGNIFICANT debts and SIGNIFICANT wrongs done against us. This test of forgiveness comes down to two very important issues.
First, do we recognize the great debt God forgave us at such pain and cost?
Our forgiveness is undeserved. Its absolute sheer grace. We didnt, we couldnt, earn it He paid the costgiving up the Son at his side, withholding his power while watching the anguish of his Son suffering at the hands of the very people he had fashioned.
Second, even though others may have hurt us greatly, are we willing to forgive them because we recognize that God has forgiven us so much more?
We would be incredibly ungrateful to him, to withhold our grace from someone else, when he has lavished his grace so richly on us!
Forgiveness is back in the news these days as the ONLY hope that many people have of regaining their sanity and many couples have of preserving their marriage. Our Father wants to make sure forgiveness is the language of his children. We are to show the world, so caught up with rights and hurts, that the only way for life to be filled with sweetness, begins with forgiving others just as we have been forgiven.
So who do you need to forgive today?